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OUT WITH THE OLD

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If you were in the Butte on Monday night, you might have seen that we had a fire here at the Reindeer Farm. Not to worry, it was a controlled burn by the Butte Fire Department. We didn’t lose anything, no one was hurt, and a fire was exactly what we needed. It won’t be pretty for a while, but it will be so much better for our Reindeer.

The field was infested with an invasive grass called Foxtail. The grass starts as a plain little grass then grows a sleek pink-green seed head. As that head dries, it flairs out, into a puffy wiry small seed pod. If an animal eats the grass that seed pod can get stuck in the mouth and burrow into their cheeks and ears. To say it causes problems for animals that graze would be an understatement. It can even lead to death in some cases.

When the decision was made to start eradicating foxtail field by field, local experts were called to figure out how to go about it. There seemed to be two choices, chemicals or fire.

Chemicals just didn’t seem right, around our animals, visitors, and family. Plus chemicals won’t kill the seeds lying dormant in the soil.

Fire not only kills all actively growing foxtail but can cook many of the seeds in the ground so they won’t sprout again later either. Lucky for us the Butte Fire Department is always ready to practice their skills and techniques and jumped at the chance for a controlled burn as part of their training.

And that leads us to Monday when the Butte Fire Department burned off one of our fields. Now that the field is empty we’ll be seeding it with grass seed for pasturing our Reindeer. Here’s to greener fields and healthier animals!

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